Choosing to share your own story can be slightly trickier too, than simply choosing to share about a subject area you’ve been trained in, or using a third parties case study or a client story (with permission) too because you’re so closely linked to the subject matter being shared. At times, as you share, and the audience reacts or responds and (when invited) reflects back to you their questions or own experiences, as per the intention you’ve set, it’s inevitable that it’s going to trigger any parts of you too that have yet to heal. And while everybody is getting potentially triggered, some part of you still has the purpose of the event to fulfil upon, and the associated speaking, training or facilitation related goals, skills or benefits that you promised this event would help them achieve, to actually help them achieve.
Particularly when it comes to managing the emotional wellbeing of your audience in response to sharing emotive/personal stories, one question that I think it is really important to ask from an Event and Audience Experience Management perspective is : what support will that mean that myself or my support crew will likely be required to provide the audience in response to this sharing, to ensure that the attendees can have the best possible experience when attending and best be supported to achieve their goals?
Having been trained in and worked as a Counsellor and Group Therapy Facilitator, in addition to the experience I’ve gained as an Event Manager and Emotional Support Crew Member at various small to large scale Transformational events and festivals (later Business and Leadership focussed ones) and of course, as a Speaker myself, planning out the provision of emotional support strategy for participants has been a big part of my work over recent years.
A Counsellor, like most Coaches, Facilitators, Trainers and Educators, is trained to understand that the process of intellectual and emotional inquiry and transformation doesn’t just end when the segment of the event, or the event door closes. It continues on into life. So they know that, if they’re going to be bringing up questions, material or running a process that is likely to substantially trigger some or all participants in some way, about some area of life in which they’ve either previously or are presently experiencing major discomfort, then it’s good to have both crew support for this built into the event itself, as well a follow up process to both:
That doesn’t mean that you personally have to be the one providing all of the additional support if some of it is outside your area of expertise. But it does mean providing participants with the following kinds of support IN event and POST event, like :
So that they feel well loved and supported through and beyond whatever might’ve come up for them through attending the event. Particularly if they publicly broke down, we need to be mindful of the fact that that can feel potentially very embarrassed or worried that they just publicly humiliated themselves. In which case, just you or your crew touching base on the other side to let them know you’re still good and they’re still welcome, can really help people who’ve been through an ackward group event moment re-engage with your community, rather than disengage on the the other side.
Not to mention so that, as an Industry Professional, you’ve met your duty of care obligations to your attendees.
AND as a Leader, you and your team have also just publicly role modelled to your community how you treat the most vulnerable members of your flock, which creates ongoing safety and stability for the rest of the tribe too, to keep engaging with the tribe beyond the event.
The second reason you want to do this, is for your own benefit. Particularly if you’re just starting to put yourself out there and test sharing around your personal journey, it’s highly likely that there will be moments where people’s reactions to and interpretations of the information you’ve shared may well trigger additional layers of your own reaction and the need for deeper healing around your still vulnerable bits within you. Those moments when they happen in front of a crowd, can serve to knock us off centre a little bit. And that is when it pays to have friendly support people just for YOU in the room, to help you watch over the audience and help YOU re-find your groove in those moments.
This is actually just as important for business or leadership or industry events, as it is for personal development or therapeutic ones. Because anything from, for example:
-sharing a rags to riches story, to
-an illness recovery story
a loss story (unemployment, redundancy, relationship breakdown
-an instance of anxiety, depression or mental illness
-an abuse story
-an addiction story
-a coming-out story, or
even you sharing a happy family or work story
can and will often trigger a percentage of people in the room, who may also be directly or indirectly (through someone they care about) being impacted by some circumstance in that area of their life.
It doesn’t mean you or they are doing anything wrong by disclosing or reacting. It just means being mindful of the fact that being authentic and vulnerable and choosing to share a personal story, may, exactly as you might have hoped it would, indeed touch and initiate the learning, healing or transformation process in the very people you’re there to help. And having a crew support process and a follow up procedure for your attendees, I think, as well as support for yourself, is an essential add-on to consider for any event you might be running or speaking at, where personal stories might be shared.
Not just to ensure that they feel well loved and cared for and as an ethical consideration, but as a standard part of any world class event management, client relationship strategy and your speaking strategy.
If I can ever help you with formulating such strategies for your events or speaking engagements, happy to help, just let me know.
Until next time....
There are some moments where the internal drive to be seen, and the simultaneous desire NOT to be seen by our audience, are present in equal measure. Which kind of sends a mixed message to the world about what experience to bring back to you, in response to your wish.
And consequently, can have others responding to you or what you put out there in the world, in line with whatever force is more dominant in you within that moment. When we decide, "hell yes, I’m giving this a go!" DESPITE whatever fears or reservations we might have about doing so, “life” will start bringing you people who want to see you and are committed to showing up. And simultaneously, we are just that powerful that if we don’t really feel ready to be seen or show up, then the people around us can and will (whether unconsciously or knowingly) respond (or rather not) accordingly.
I first noticed the power of our intention in this back in 2010, after I left my longest term relationship and decided that, while I was healing, I was off the market for 6 months. As a little symbol of my desire NOT to be seen and available to single men in that moment, I started wearing my favourite ring as though it was an engagement ring, as my sign to the world that I wasn’t available for that time that I was committing instead to my growth and healing. Believe it or not, it worked.
Every day I would walk my housemate's and my 2 Short Haired Pointers together, past many men with dogs, through the local park. Every day I’d see many men in public. But it was a little like i’d just slipped on Frodo ad Bilbo’s one ring, or maybe Aragorn’s fancy Elvish Cloke of invisibility in it’s effect, if somewhat more pure in it’s intent. They hardly noticed me and I could seemingly move through a crowd without being seen if I wished, until the exact day I decided I was ready to drop the intention and take it off.
And then, my Goodness. It was tangibly, tangibly obvious the difference that first day as I went walking through the dog park, strolling through the train station and sat with friends after a devotional chanting/singing event that night. EVERY man I passed at the dog park was actively full of friendly smiles, his dogs would run over to greet mine and he’d follow for a chat. One of the charity fundraiser guys at the train station, who struck out on a sign up (that I was already signed up to) then thought he’d ask for my number anyway. Everyone at the evening event, seemingly gravitated in and out of our conversation outside the venue and I found myself tagging along with the dinner after crew. Where previously I’d stay after and chat for the length of a chai with a couple of people and then go.
That one act of shifting my intention to deciding I WANTED to be seen and be present again, made a massive difference to how I engaged with the world and what life brought me back, in terms of social engagement. And I would later discover that our true intent to be seen or not seen in our work, as we make the decision that we want to show up in service, can just as much impact our levels of engagement within our businesses and the size (or lack thereof) of our audiences.
Very often when I’ve Coached Practitioners or Business Owners on social media engagement over recent years, they’ll be telling me, on the one had, that they want more likes, views and engagement that converts to sessions, program or event participation. And they’re frustrated when they’re not getting interest or numbers for what they were trying to fill that day.
But when we dig a little deeper, it turns out that another part of them that same day, was actually feeling really exhausted, emotional and like the last thing they wanted to do was see and be present to listen to, let alone be seen by 10 clients. They didn’t have the headspace or the energy for it in that moment. Then “life” and others around them, on an unconscious level, seemingly, got the telepathic download and aligned with being or doing something else. If the client I was talking to had also started conversations with potential clients directly, to invite them to an available session/event, they’d hear a lot of seemingly out of character no’s or “excuses” back as to why the people they asked couldn’t be there for the session, the event, or the webinar that day too.
Sometimes it’s NOT that we failed on the value proposition. Sometimes it can be that you’re doing everything you’re “supposed to do” right to invite the desired number of people to be there. But you’re sending out mixed signals about whether you’re really ready and available to be witnessed by and engage with as many people as some other part of you wishes would attend in that moment.
So sometimes, if you’re feeling like your engagement, or the number of available possibilities open to you is down, it pays to ask the question, what am I REALLY committed to more right now? Showing up intending to be of service (and hence being willing to be seen)? Or NOT being seen? And what can I do to ensure that more of me is available to show up in service, at the times where I have committed to do so?
Until next time...
Now granted, there can be good reason to be concerned if, say you're a 1st semester Med student, working reception in ED and someone just asked you if you could assist an emergency hip reconstructive surgery by mistake, and you wouldn't hire the person who just first year Engineering to be the Lead on a project to repair a section of the harbour bridge; professional training, registration and regulation exist for a good reason at times.
But there are other times in our careers, where it can be time to step up and face a challenge in our work that we're completely qualified to do, but we still feel insecure about whether we're enough. So then you might feel inclined to refer that work to a colleague or Mentor with 10-20 years more experience, who we might think can better do the job, until WE are that experienced ourselves. BUT, as two of my awesome Counselling Practice Mentors once pointed out to me in 2012, when I kept referring potential clients to them, and they then put it back on me that they thought I was more than ready to see them myself, sometimes, we ARE actually ready. We just need to step up. And more than that, we're already perfectly aligned with a whole portion of the population, who are just going through now, things that we might have already successfully navigated ourselves. Those people need our support NOW, not us 10 years from now US.
Is there some important work, or an important project that you feel called to bring into the world/be a part of, but part of you is scared of or worrying if you're really ready and have what it takes to get the job done? Here are 5 good reasons why the world needs you to give it go (or another go) NOW.
1- We're more tech connected, yet feeling just as depressed and anxious as before.
According to the Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2018, 9 in every 10 Australian's now owns a smartphone and more than 1/3 of the world’s population (35.13%) also now have smartphones . In 2018, the Household Use of Information Technology Australia, 2016-17 Survey showed that desktop or laptop computers are also being used by 91% of connected households and 86% of these houses had internet access .
We're more tech connected to each other than ever and there are more apps for improving and monitoring mental wellbeing and access to mental healthcare service providers than ever. And while it may be just as possible to achieve a hit of oxytocin during a phone chat with a loved one, as it is to receive it in person through a hug with a loved one or companion animal  the prevalence of mental illness overall, seemingly, has not decreased. In fact, mental illness in young people, in part associated with social media use, internet and technology addiction, and overall expenditure on treatment of mental health, are both on the rise globally  .
The acceleration of climate change, is also already having a major impact on mental health and predicted to continue to be a major source of stress on mental and physical health going forward into the coming decades, globally also .
The most recent ABS National Health Survey estimated that there were 4.8 million Australians (20.1 per cent) with a mental or behavioural condition in 2017–18 . That's as many people as there are in the entire city of Melbourne. According to Beyond Blue, 1 in 7 Australians are now experiencing depression in their lifetime and 1/4 will experience an anxiety condition . One in 16 Australians is currently experiencing depression and one in seven Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition. One in five people in the LGBTI[QA] community are dealing with anxiety and depression.  People in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities, in aged care or managing Disability are highly at risk of mental illness. Indigenous Australians are twice as likely at present to commit suicide than non-Indigenous Australians . One in seven young people aged 4 to 17 years experience a mental health condition in any given year and almost one-fifth of all young people in Australia aged 11 to 17 years experience high or very high levels of psychological distress . Frightening, don't you think?
Moral of the story, at this time of massive change, we need Leaders who can spread messages of hope, inspiration and joy like viruses and role-model for people how to live their best lives and contribute their unique gifts to the world, despite what's shifting in our insides and shifting and changing in the world around us. We need heart centred, innovative Leaders and role models in not just the mental health sector, but in every sector of society, now more than ever.
2- Lifestyle related illness is at an all-time high
According to the Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2018, 50% of Australians were estimated to have at least 1 of the 8 following common chronic conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, a mental health condition, arthritis, back pain or a back problem, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma or diabetes . Twenty three percent of Australians are estimated to have two or more of these conditions. 
Lifestyle Medicine and Holistic Wellbeing solutions, incorporated into and or delivered alongside Traditional Western Medical Care has never been so important as it is now. We need Leaders who can bridge the Complimentary and Western Medical Paradigms and Leaders who are living embodiments of Wellness in every industry, now more than ever.
3- The gap between poverty and wealth has never been so wide. It's time to stop fighting and start uniting.
And it seems to be getting wider . It only takes a quick look around social media, at the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram verbal wars between people of strong left or strong right oriented opinions to see that the gap is fast growing wider. More than that, the climate debate has completely brought to the surface so many old wounds around justice, fairness, abuse of power, abandonment, survival, human connectedness and the use of resources, that are in genuine need of both personal and public ownership, healing and resolution.
Now more than ever, we need Leaders who are willing to let go of their attachment to the fight and being "right", in favour of doing what is in the best interest of the people and creates both connection and unity. One of my 2 World's Top 10 Speakers (and Leadership) Mentors of recent years would say it's time to be compassionate over being clever. The other would call it's time to choose empathy over intelligence. Put another way, it's showing up with the intent to share in service, rather than for the purpose of seeking self validation, or to win for one's own agenda, at any cost. Every single one of us has got our stuff to heal, not all of us are always going to get it 100% right, every time, in a world that is relentless about us getting it right EVERY time. But the current challenge for Leaders is in having the courage and self discipline to be self aware and self responsible enough to NOT get pulled into the fear and the fight, and instead stay focussed on how to CONNECT and UNITE the people we support, coming into a time in history where we need it the most.
4- We're using a lot of our tech focus for prioritising and solving the wrong set of problems.
Why are we still funding and investing in the production and innovation of single serve solutions of convenience, the improvement of production of cheap plastic appliances programmed to die within a year for the benefit of the company selling it, cheap housing solutions built with non sustainable materials and innovating any number of pieces of material "stuff" we don't actually need? Or, at least, could be sharing?
From a biological and physiological perspective, as warm blooded vertebrates, we are not likely to stop needing wood, or clay or steel or aluminium (for example) for building houses or tools any time soon. And we can't stop needing raw materials for things like clothes or bedding or medical care, on a planet with such a vast (yet not, compared to our neighbours) diversity of temperature, atmospheric and weather conditions. We can't stop the need for food production, agriculture, clean water or completely eliminate waste production. Plus, having the advanced consciousness that we do, we are not likely to stop needing materials and tools for learning, teaching and creating enjoyment in life, through any number of activities, any time soon (as a few examples).
BUT we do have the choice to stop investing in non-renewal energy. We can be investing in creating housing, technology, appliances, tools, clothing, accessories, toys, commonly needed items etc from eco friendly, sustainably produced materials, produced in ways that are sustainable. We can be re-investing in ancient agricultural, horticultural, permacultural, land management practices that Indigenous cultures have known for eons, sustainably work. And hybridising them with additional new technologies as they arise. We could be investing in creating experiences, or resources that are virtual? We could be investing more in growing an economy that is less based on materials we had to dig out of the ground, that could now also instead be virtual. As a few additional examples.
What can each one of us do, how can we contribute our resources and gifts to contributing to the development of, and support each other to transition to, over the coming century, a truly sustainable economy and truly sustainable way of life? For those who will came after our time?
We need Leaders who feel passionately compelled to share their new ideas, who can stay resilient, no matter how many times they're rejected or laughed at by those who stand to lose from transition and change. Who will lovingly challenge the existing way of life and be role models of doing things a new way.
We need to to encourage each other to inspire and influence in new ways. Show us the photos of the new communal sharing system you just set up with the neighbours to share the leaf blower, the mower, the yacht or the jet ski, the bike or stand up paddle board you just got. Or the resources your company is sharing with those on the floor below, or in the shop next door. Show us the new suit you just bought, or your workout gear or the underwear or bikini that's made from some sustainable, eco-friendly new company or an existing one that's committed to innovating the industry and providing products now made from more sustainable materials, in eco-friendly, people friendly ways. Show us what you just gave back to an NFP environmental organisation. Or the book you just got published by a publishing house that prints their books on recycled materials. Marketing and PR gurus, it's your time to shine in convincing the world that "sustainable" is "sexy"!
5- Carbon and Climate Change is not the only environmental challenge we are facing and we all need to act now to bring things back into balance.
According to the UN study released in May 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), discussed in one of the world's 2 leading journals on Animal and Environmental Science, "Nature' (a report covering findings from nearly 15,000 studies and government reports, integrating information from the natural and social sciences, Indigenous peoples and traditional agricultural communities across the globe and approved by representatives of 132 governments globally) :
Our current way of life, agriculture and our means of food production, has already significantly altered about 75% of land and 66% of ocean areas on the planet, with the result of a current extinction rate of species across the globe, tens to hundreds of times higher than the average has been across the past ten million years. Whatever you believe to be the cause of the current massive shifts in climate, the report provides evidence that the loss of up to 1 million species and their habitats (including the vital to our survival, pollinator species') poses as much a danger to the future of life on Earth as any form of climate change or shift does .
You may not be able to see it yet, but according to IPBES chair Robert Watson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, our current way of living is "eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”  This is not new information, by the way, to many of us with family who've been working in local government all their lives or studied environmental or animal science, who've been aware that the 'sky is falling' metaphorically speaking, for decades. But Gretta was not wrong when she alluded to the house being on fire and it being time to act.
The preservation of biodiversity, through the implementation of massive changes to our way of life across all sectors of society, globally, as well as creating a way of doing life and business that is less single-use, more in sync with the natural eco-system of which we are a part and more long-term sustainable, NEEDS to be at the top of our priority list. The good news is that the report says that the world can still at least reverse the biodiversity crisis of decades to come.
And if you study population ecology and the evolution of life on Earth long enough and look at what is already shifting within the human population, i personally think there's indicators that "life" is throwing up it's share of adaptations (as well as human interventions) to slow down our exponential population growth and restore a more symbiotic, than the current, i'm sorry, completely parasitic relationship we have right now with the planet we are dependent upon for our existence. A way things have been done that so many people who've dedicated their lives to building it, and who's job and financial security are currently tied to it, are hanging onto for dear life, out of what they fear to lose, and hence not trusting and ALLOWING it to do the necessary break apart it NEEDS to do and transform into something infinitely more sustainable, as it NEEDS to from an evolutionary perspective. And that right there, is a HUGE part of the problem.
When the solution seems so unbelievably simple- start spending on a sustainable way of life, stop working for companies and hiring services or service providers that support the destruction of the planet and start working for and hiring ones that are investing in saving it, start working and start investing in sustainable resources and technology.
In other words, it's time to put the actual "eco" into our economy and ecosystem. And we need courageous, resilient, passionate Leaders, not afraid to go against the status quo, with the courage to take a stand for pioneering a way that is infinitely less self-interest driven, and infinitely more focused on doing what humanity requires to continue to thrive, in better balance, for both us AND the future generations to come.
My point? There has never been a time on this planet, where the unique message, the unique wisdom and the pieces of the global puzzle that you hold, are needed more. Where courageous, compassionate, heart centred Leaders, like you, are needed more. Whatever the stuff we are holding onto about putting ourselves out there, whatever our fears, doubts and our perceived weaknesses in our abilities to connect, to lead, to inspire, whatever our perceived differences, it is time to put them down, for good. It is time to focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us. To channel our frustration into taking action to do something about it. To focus on what we are creating, not what we are losing. And if we must compete, let it be to collaboratively spur each other on to greatness, in creating a new way of life, that better supports the thriving, not just surviving of us all.
 Deloitte Mobile Consumer, Survey 2018, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/mobile-consumer-survey
 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2016-17 https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8146.0
 Harmon, K, A phone call from Mom reduces stress as well as a hug, Scientific American, May 11 2010 https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-phone-call-from-mom-reduces-stress-as-well-as-a-hug/
 Technology in 2017: What impact does it have on mental health?https://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/blog/technology-in-2017-what-impact-does-it-have-on-mental-health/
 Technology and the future of mental health, 5th March 2018 https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/news/news-detail/2018/03/05/technology-and-the-future-of-mental-health
 Hayes, K, Blashki, et al., Climate change and mental health: risks, impacts and priority actions, Int J Ment Health Syst. 2018; 12: 28 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984805/
 National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Psychological%20distress~20
 Beyond Blue, Statistics https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics
 Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, Australia's Health 2018 In Brief https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/fe037cf1-0cd0-4663-a8c0-67cd09b1f30c/aihw-aus-222.pdf.aspx?inline=true
 Ryan, P, Tax Office updates Australia's widening income gap, AM Full Episode March 29 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/labor-announces-jan-1-scrap-of-negative-gearing-if-elected/10951938
 Wade M, Gap between rich and poor a $247 billion drag on our wellbeing, Sydney Morning Herald, July 21 2019 https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/gap-between-rich-and-poor-a-247-billion-drag-on-our-wellbeing-20190721-p529bc.html
 Tollefson, J, Humans are driving one million species to extinction, Nature, 6 May 2019 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01448-4
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.